NEW YORK ISLANDERS (30-19-6) VS. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (41-10-4)
7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. ISLES-CAPS III
The Islanders are 0-2 against the Capitals this season, losing the most recent outing 3-2 on Feb. 4. The Islanders fought back to tie the game in the third period, but a late goal from Alex Ovechkin proved to be the difference.
“The last time we played them we played a pretty good game,” John Tavares said. “They were just able to capitalize on their chance late in the game and we didn’t capitalize on ours. The points are big based on with the way things are in the standings, regardless of who we play each game is important, but certainly seeing these guys a lot over the years builds up the intensity the familiarity. These games are always fun to play in.”
Thomas Greiss will start for the Islanders against the Capitals. Greiss has won five straight starts and six of his last seven games. Read more at Islanders Day-To-Day
2. DE HAAN OUT, STRAIT IN:
Calvin de Haan will not play Thursday against Washington, as he’s considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
“He’s one of those guys whose come in and played extremely well for us,” Capuano said. “He’s played some hard minutes against other team’s top players. He’s a great penalty killer for us and in every situation really. He has great hockey IQ and it makes him one of our best players on the back end.”
Brian Strait will take de Haan’s place in the lineup Thursday, skating on a pairing with Travis Hamonic.
While there’s no official timetable for de Haan’s return, the Islanders defenseman did take the ice at the end of Islanders morning skate in Syosset – an encouraging sign. Should de Haan not be healthy before Monday, Capuano said the Islanders will call up a defenseman from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the team’s Western Canadian road trip.
3. POWER PLAY CLICKING:
The Islanders have scored a power-play goal in six consecutive games (7-for-22), their longest streak of the season. The Islanders credit their success to adopting a shooter’s mentality and looking to get the puck on net, rather than force a backdoor play or a cross-seam pass.
“We’ve been clicking,” Kyle Okposo said. “Trying to shoot the puck a lot more and that’s definitely helped our power play and getting pucks back, not being so stagnant, trying to move and create opportunities that way.”
4. BROOKS ORPIK RETURNS:
Brooks Orpik returned to the Capitals lineup on Tuesday after missing 40 games with a lower-body injury. Orpik recorded an assist in his first game back, playing 16:43 while being paired with Dmitry Orlov. The 35-year-old defenseman has four points (1G, 3A) in 15 games this season, but is more known for his defense and physicality than his offense. Last season, Orpik had 306 hits, the most of any defenseman and third most in the NHL behind Matt Martin (382) and Cal Clutterbuck (343).
5. NICKLAS BACKSTROM:
Over the past four seasons, Nicklas Backstrom has been the NHL’s top playmaker. The Capitals center leads the league with 197 assists in the last four seasons, and his 258 points (61G, 197A) are the fifth-most of any player in the NHL.
He’s scoring at his usual pace this season, with 53 points (17G, 36A) in 52 games this season, good for second on the Capitals. He is one goal shy of matching his total from the past two seasons and should easily break 20 goals for the first time since 2009-10.
Backstrom had a three-game assist streak (5A) snapped on Tuesday vs. Los Angeles.